When Amber Cox planned to visit a college friend in Scottsdale, Ariz., during the summer, she had no idea she was visiting her future home state.
But when Cox, the assistant athletic director at Columbia College, saw a job posting in June that said the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury was looking for a Director of Marketing, she decided to apply.
Cox announced Monday she will complete her nearly five-year tenure with the Cougars on Jan. 7, 2005, and begin working for the Mercury on Jan. 10.
“I didn’t expect this at all,” Cox said. “I just thought it would be a great experience to interview and for networking to get my name out there.”
During Cox’s trip to Arizona, she contacted the Mercury and was granted an initial interview. After a second and third interview she emerged with the job against two other finalists.
Athletic director Bob Burchard said he was sad at the loss of Cox, but understands her enthusiasm for the new job.
“Amber has really done a magnificent job in all areas, and she will be difficult to replace,” Burchard said. “She is a person of great abilities and tremendous work ethic, and I think she will do incredibly well in the professional sports world.
Although Cox said she is ready for the challenge, the William Woods graduate will miss her Mid-Missouri connections.
“It’s an easy decision from a professional standpoint, the natural progression,” Cox said.
“I really thought I could spend my entire career in the NAIA, though. It exemplifies what college sports should be, but an opportunity presented itself and I’m just going to go with it.
Cox was the first assistant athletic director at Columbia College, and as she expanded her role, she watched the program expand.
As director of media relations and development, Cox has seen the Arena at Southwell Complex undergo extensive renovation and expansion in 2002. The $2 million project is just one part of the Cougars efforts to improve their athletic programs.
“I used to do the PA announcements, and the stats, and keep score,” Cox said. “And now it’s evolved to the whole entertainment package with the (Cougar Vision scoreboard), the music, the band, and halftime entertainment even. We do it at a high level and I’m very proud of it.”
Cox said all small schools should strive to be more like Columbia College, not just in the technology and facilities, but the people involved.
“Dealing with the student athletes, and the coaches, and the administration has been great,” Cox said. “It’s such a wonderful place to work; it’s just a class act.”
With the Cougars in the middle of their men’s and women’s basketball seasons, the search for a replacement begins today. Between the time Cox leaves in January and a hire can be made, student assistant Cindy Fotti and the rest of the athletic department will absorb her duties.